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The National Women's Soccer League is one step closer to finalizing its next expansion cities. According to a Wall Street Journal report, three new teams will join the league in the future, beginning with two teams in 2024. Utah, San Fransisco Bay Area and Boston are set to be the next expansion sites, with two of the new teams set to pay a record $50 million in franchise fees.

When reached for comment on an official announcement of the new cities, a league spokesperson told CBS Sports no announcement was "imminent" but the league remains "engaged in our expansion process and we are excited about our prospects."

According to reports, the San Francisco and Boston groups have agreed to pay $50 million, while ownership in Utah will pay between $2 million and $5 million. The stark contrast in franchise fees is different per a previous agreement with the former Utah Royals FC franchise. Former owner Dell Loy Hansen sold various soccer entities -- MLS, NWSL, and academy holdings -- after allegations of racist, sexist, and toxic work environments were reported. 

The franchises were sold to David Blitzer and Ryan Smith with Arctos Sports Partners in 2022, but not before the Utah franchise and Hansen agreed to a transfer of ownership allowing the former Utah Royals roster to relocate to Kansas City as an expansion franchise for 2021. The transfers included a clause that would allow new ownership to re-establish the Utah Royals FC name and franchise at a later date with prior fees included. The Salt Lake City area may now have an NWSL return to the state in 2024. 

The San Francisco and Boston franchise fees are a reflection of the current demand and valuation for the league as interest continues to grow. The league currently has 12 clubs, and commissioner Jessica Berman made comments on expansion during the 2022 NWSL championship final in Washington D.C. At the time she stated that there were "82 interested groups" but expected five to 10 official bids after a waning process. 

The league anticipates two expansion teams to officially join in 2024, with reports stating Utah and San Francisco are likely to meet the deadline, while the Boston market will be integrated at a later time. The 2023 NWSL regular season is slated to kick off with 12 teams on March 25. You can watch the NWSL on Paramount+.